A while back, the idea struck me to create a series of paintings entirely focused on feathers. Of course, as with any bolt of inspiration, I quickly realized it might be a huge challenge to find reference to paint from! I use my own photography whenever possible in my work, but how to capture images when obtaining your subject matter is completely illegal? While I did find some good resources online, I knew that wouldn't really carry my idea through. And then I remembered my favorite local wildlife sanctuary... the Vermont Institute of Natural Sciences (VINS).
I've written about my visits to VINS in the past, including my inspiration and reference for the painting "Soul Mates." Last year, I got engaged right in front of those very same ravens! So I called VINS and said, "Remember that couple that you helped set up a secret engagement party for last year? I'm the girl that said 'yes.'" I told them about the project I had in mind and wondered if they kept any of the molted feathers from their birds that I could come photograph. I had no idea the treasure trove that awaited me.
I met with a few interns later that week and spent hours photographing the most exquisite array of feathers from every species I could have hoped for. Bald Eagle, Golden Eagle, Red Tail Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, Kestrel, Barn Owl, Barred Owl, Great Horned Owl... it went on and on.
I poured through hundred of feathers from these animals which I consider extraordinarily magical, selecting the best of the bunch and photographing them on the table with my Canon PowerShot.
It really just goes to show you what can happen if you just kind of... ask for what you need! I am, by all definitions, an introvert, so reaching out randomly to strangers has never been in my wheelhouse. But as I grow older and wiser, I've learned that stepping just slightly outside of my comfort zone is when the most amazing things happen.
Red Tail Hawk Spirit is the first of a larger series of feather paintings that I can't wait to continue. And now, for your message from Spirit Guide, Red Tail Hawk:
Red Tail Hawk is the visionary, bringing the ability to soar towards our true Soul Purpose. It is a messenger signaling that now is the time to move towards that purpose, bringing new inspiration and opening new doorways. An inhabitant of the sky realm, Red Tail Hawk is seen as having a direct link to Spirit, able to usher in profound creative energies to one's life. If Red Tail Hawk is your totem, or has shown up in a significant way, it may be time to spread your wings, connect with the higher self, and soar.